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2015 is the year of branching out for me. I'm trying new ways to reach readers. My latest venture is with Wattpad. I wasn't very familiar with this platform, but I know a lot of readers are there grabbing free samples of books. So I thought why not? I joined and got permission from the very awesome people at Spencer Hill Press to upload my two FREE Touch of Death series companions, which are also available on the SHP website.
The first is Curse of Death, which is the myth behind the series. It shows why I love Medusa and feel she was wrongfully cursed.
The second is Kiss of Death, which is a prequel novella told from Alex's POV, because I just love Alex and his story needed to be told pre-Jodi. So what does this mean? I'm not entirely sure yet, but I'm hoping to reach new readers and introduce them to my work. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Wattpad here and to read my free stories.
Are you on Wattpad? Feel free to leave your link in the comments so I can follow you. If you aren't, what do you think of a site that allows you to sample an author's work?
Two weeks ago I mentioned that you should always read your book aloud during revisions because it allows you to hear errors. Well, today I want to take that a step further, and here's why. It's already been proven that the human brain can read misspelled words as long as the first and last letter are in the correct places. Well, think about this. You've read your own book countless times and know the story so well, that your brain is also filling in missing words. So what do you do?
Some people hire editors. If you are self-publishing, I highly recommend this. And not just because I am an editor. You are too close to your manuscript to find errors. Your brain will fill in what your fingers either didn't type or typed incorrectly. So having an editor is a must for self-publishing. (If you aren't self-publishing, get a few beta readers and/or CPs.) However…editors are human too. Yes, we do our best to make your work as error free as possible, but our brains work like yours. I read every book I edit twice. On the second time through, I know your story. That means my brain may fill in gaps (missing words or letters) just like yours will. Think about how many published books (even by the big five) still have an error or two in them. This is why.
What now? Ereaders have a cool feature that can help. It's the text-to-speech function. Over the past few weeks, this has become my favorite final pass on manuscripts. I send the Word document to my Kindle. (Handy tip: If you email the document to your Kindle with the word "Convert" in the subject line—don't actually use quotes, though—your Kindle will convert the document's formatting to make it look nice on your Kindle.) Then I let my Kindle read the book to me while I'm looking at it on the Kindle and following along. I have the Word document open on my laptop at the same time, so that when I hear a mistake, I can pause my Kindle and fix the error on my document.
While proofing the ARC of Looking For Love, my Kindle let me know I misspelled Harvard. Hearing Havard jumped right out at my ears, but not my eyes or my proofreader's eyes. So this is my new favorite proofreading method.
Have you used the text-to-speech feature to help you proofread?
We all know that part of what we do as writers is interact on social media. We need to be available to our readers so they are aware of when our next book comes out or when we get a new contract and of course so they can get to know us as people and readers, too. I'm going to admit that lately, I've been so busy that I haven't been online much.
Yup. I've been a bad social media author. Here's why. Over the past month, my husband and daughter have been home a lot. A lot. I've always tried to balance my writing life and my personal life. So when my family is home, I like to spend time with them. Nothing unusual there, right? Right. So that means my time to actually work is cut down significantly. And that leads to me deciding what's more important—writing or being on social media.
I chose writing. I worked on a new novella and I revised two books. That's not to mention editing for my clients, too. So you see, something had to give. For me that something was social media, and I'm hoping you'll all forgive me for being quiet online. I'm hoping the promise of more books from me will make up for it.
Do you ever go social media quiet? Do you find you lose followers, or are they forgiving?
I've been doing a lot of editing lately, both for clients and for my own books, so I thought I'd share a tip with you all today. I talk a lot about how I edit books backward in one of my reading passes, but something else that is just as important (maybe more important) is reading the book out loud.
I can't stress this enough. Yes, you will probably lose your voice if you revise too much in one sitting, but reading aloud allows you to identify so many weakness in your writing. Don't believe me? Ask people who have had their books made into audio versions if their readers (the person making the audio) identified errors. I bet they did.
Here are just a few things you'll hear when you read your book aloud:
Repetition Every manuscript I edit has repetition it in. Every single one. And in
most cases it's unnecessary repetition that you don't want. (My editors get on my case for this too because seriously, everyone does it.) If you read your book aloud, the repetition pretty much slaps you in the face, and then you can get rid of it. You'll be thankful when the book reads more smoothly and the pace picks up, too.
Missing Words Yes, you can hear missing words. You hear them because they aren't there. When we read in our heads, we don't always catch a missing "the" or "an," but you will when you read aloud.
Awkward Wording You'll stumble over sentences that aren't quite right if you read them aloud. If you have to slow down or reread a sentence, something is wrong with your wording. Maybe it's a case of poor word choice or a phrase that doesn't quite read correctly. Either way, this is the time to fix it.
Contractions I've had clients make words into contractions that have no right to be contractions. ;) It's awkward for the reader. In the same token, most kids don't speak without contractions, so if you're avoiding them completely, think again. Reading aloud will highlight areas that don't sound like real life speech.
Italics Sometimes you have to make sure your intent with emphasis is clear. Italics will do that. So if you're reading a sentence and the emphasis could be placed on the wrong word, make life easier on your reader and add italics to the word or words you want emphasized.
I could probably keep going, but I think you get the point. It's worth the extra time it takes to read a manuscript aloud.
Do you make reading aloud part of your revision process?
Today's topic came by request from Kai Strand. Kai wanted to know how to use a book trailer for marketing. Now this is just my opinion, but here's how I think you can use a trailer.
- Host a trailer reveal Get some bloggers on board to post your trailer on a specific day or week. This will drum up additional interest in your book and get the word out there between the cover reveal and release day.
- Start a YouTube Channel Tons of people are on YouTube, and trailers give you material to post to your channel. Why not be a part of this huge platform?
- Post your trailer to your website, blog, Amazon author page, etc. Just about every social media outlet online has a place to upload videos, so go nuts! Get that video up everywhere! Plus if you post to FB or Twitter, others can share your video, too.
- Post a link or embed the video in your author newsletter Newsletter subscribers love to get sneak peeks at what you're doing, so reward them with an exclusive first look at your trailer.
Now, do I think book trailers help sales? Not really. But they are fun to make, and they are another way to spread the word about your book, so why not utilize this method of getting your book out there?
Have any other ideas for how you can use a book trailer? Please share in the comments.
I had a very different post planned for today, but that will have to wait until next week because this is too important for me not to post immediately. I have to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who stops by my blog each week. Thank you to everyone who reads my books. Thank you to everyone who promotes my work. Thank you to everyone I've met along my writing career.
Why am I so thankful today? Because yesterday this happened:
This can't happen without those people—without you. It's not a secret that my goal is to make the NYT bestseller list. Sometimes I get so caught up in that dream that I forget to stop and look at my journey so far. This is my third ribbon on Amazon. Now Stalked by Death, Touch of Death, and The Monster Within have all gotten ribbons (two golds and a bronze). Am I a NYT bestseller? No, but that's okay. I'll keep reaching for that goal, but in the meantime, I'm really happy with what I have accomplished.
So thank you, because I couldn't be here without you. Without your encouragement and support. If I could wrap you all in a hug right now, I would. Since I can't, I'm sending virtual hugs and an invitation to call on me any time you need. I'm always here to support all of you as well.
Every book has a dedication page and an acknowledgments page so authors can thank all those people who helped make the book. Well, to be honest, I hate writing these. I'm always afraid of leaving someone out (by accident of course), and to be honest, I could gush for pages upon pages thanking people I'm happy to have with me on my writing journey. Still, I try to keep these short, knowing most people don't read them anyway. ;)
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I want to say a general thank you to everyone reading this post. I don't care if you've ever read one of my books. I'm thankful that you found me here and that you allow me to share a little of me and my writing with you each week. I hope everyone has a great holiday filled with good food, family, friends, and a whole lot to be thankful for.
As writers we talk all the time about the books and authors who have inspired us. And while I have my list of inspirational authors, there is someone on my list who isn't an author. He was my sophomore-year English teacher in high school. His name was Mr. McKay. He was the most enthusiastic and caring teacher I've ever had, and to be honest I can't even imagine a better teacher. He made me love reading and writing even more, and he solidified my decision to become a teacher. I wanted to inspire others the way he inspired me.
Why am I bringing up Mr. McKay today? Well, on Monday I visited two schools in my hometown. While I was at my first visit the teachers asked me when I graduated and if I knew Mr. McKay. My answer was, "He was favorite teacher!" Then they told me he is now Dr. McKay, principal of Lounsberry Hollow Middle School where my next visit was scheduled. I couldn't have been more excited. I had to tell him just how much he influenced me.
So that afternoon, I went to Lounsberry and I was overcome with emotion. First, there was a gorgeous banner and tons of signs made for me.
It was the nicest welcome ever, and I was so touched that the students and staff went through all that trouble just for me.
And then Dr. McKay walked into the library. My smile couldn't have been wider. He looked the same, and he remembered me. That made my day. We talked for a while, and not only did he give me a very touching introduction when the students arrived, but he also stayed for the entire hour and a half presentation and then stayed after to talk to me. Because he cares that much. Hearing him say he was proud of me was beyond words. I almost teared up several times, and I'm tearing up now as I type this. I told him face-to-face just how much he influenced me and that he is by far the best teacher I've ever had. I also gave him a signed copy of Touch of Death because he really wanted to read that one with his father/son book club, which made me insanely happy. And I may have written him a thank you card as well and gushed about his brilliance some more.
Being able to say "thank you" and tell Dr. McKay that I wouldn't be who I am today if not for his influence was an incredible experience. So if there's someone who had a big impact on you like this, please tell them, because we need more Dr. McKays in this world.
|Me with Dr. McKay|
Today's post topic came from Katie Clark, who posted this on last week's Monday Mishmash:
Can you do a post talking about how you go about arranging those author events? Do you do the legwork, or is it done for you? What goes into it? What kind of relationships do you develop beforehand, or do you cold contact stores? How do you find out about the local events and festivals where you set up a booth?
Okay, there are quite a few things you can do to set up author events. First, make sure you get your press release into papers. I get requests for school visits because teachers see my press releases in the newspaper and contact me. However, there is nothing wrong with contacting the librarian at a school and letting him/her know you are an author and you're available to come speak to the students. I also let them know that I don't charge for visits to local schools. It's hard for schools to turn down a free opportunity like this.
As for local festivals or events where I can have a booth, I search the library website as well as the local paper. Once you get on a list, the organizers contact you the following year to return. So really the legwork is only necessary for that initial foot in the door. Also, local organizations attend each other's events. I've booked other events through them. For instance, I do a local book expo every year at the library. At that event, I met the state representative, who asked me to attend a local event she runs every year. Now I have two local events that I participate in each year. Not bad.
As for bookstores, I personally go into the bookstores with my information in hand. You need to speak with a manager, who will most likely look up your book immediately to see if it's in the system and can be ordered. From there, setting up the signing is easy, and the store usually works with you to promote the event, which is great. I've also found that teaming up with other authors can get you in more stores. That's how my book tour this fall was set up. I contacted stores in my area, and the other authors contacted stores in their areas. Before we knew it, we'd booked several signings.
So that's my answer, Katie. I do a lot of legwork, but it's time well spent.
Does anyone else have a question they'd like me to answer in a Writer Wednesday post? If so, leave your question in the comments and I'll get your answer scheduled.
Today's post topic came by request last week. Thank you, Fi, for a great question that I think many people probably have. Here's the question:
With regard to literary agents, would you approach a newly founded agency (with lots of industry experience) or hang off and see how they progress?
Okay, well I'm not sure I have the answer to this one because it's really a personal decision, but I'm going to give you some pros and cons on signing with a new agency to help you make a decision.
- More individualized attention: New agents and new agencies have smaller client lists, which means that if you sign with them, you will get a lot of individualized attention. That means quicker response times and an overall feeling of being special. :)
- Hardworking: I know writers who prefer newer agents and agencies because they work so hard for their authors. Why? The new agent/agencies have something to prove. They are trying to make a name for themselves. That means they are going to do their absolute best on your behalf. (I want to make it known that ALL agents/agencies should do this for you, though.)
- No reputation to stand on: New agencies don't have a reputation to stand on when it comes to submitting your work to editors. An editor may not recognize the agency name at all, instead of seeing a well-known agency they've worked with before and who knows the publishing house's tastes.
- You might be the guinea pig: There's a learning curve in this industry, so if you sign on with a new agent or agency, you have to understand that they are new to this and might not have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. However, some new agencies are started by very well-known and experienced agents. I don't consider them to be in this category.
I didn't set out to make an even number of pros and cons, but I think it goes to show that you have to judge each agent individually. Follow them online. See what kind of an agent he/she is. Are they editorial? Do they have relationships with editors at houses you'd like to be with? (You can see this easily on Twitter and Facebook.) Is the agent someone who represents him/herself in a way that you are comfortable with, because if you sign with that agent he/she will be representing you, too.
My advice to anyone querying is only query someone you could see yourself saying "yes" to if you are offered representation. If you're on the fence, wait. See what that agent does as far as sales. If you query someone you don't have faith in, you're really just waisting your time and the agent's. So query selectively. Finding an agent is like finding the person you want to marry. Sure, people divorce and find new agents all the time, but wouldn't it be great to have a long and successful career with someone who will really champion your books?
Blog: Kelly Hashway's Blog
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This isn't your typical Writer Wednesday post because tomorrow is Christmas! To celebrate the holiday season I want to help you fill up that new ereader you asked for or that you purchased for someone else. We all know that can get expensive, so here are my books that are either FREE or very low in price. Enjoy!
Kiss of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Novella to the Touch of Death Series. This book is told from Alex's POV.
The only life Alex Montgomery knows is raising the dead and having zombie servants, normal stuff for an Ophi. Alex is a necromancer descended from Medusa—or at least he will be once he comes into his powers. So far his life is training to use abilities he doesn't yet possess, which gets him beaten up by zombies on more than one occasion. And his parents Victoria and Troy won't tolerate anything less than perfection from Alex. He has a lot to live up to, and they remind him of it every day. So when an innocent birthday kiss turns deadly, Alex has to work twice as hard to master his Ophi abilities. He isn't the Chosen One, but he's still a Montgomery, which means he's expected to run the Ophi school one day. With a new group of students coming to the school, Alex needs to learn fast because he's about to be sent on the biggest mission of his life.
Want to know Alex's story and what he was like before he met Jodi? Now you can. Download it FREE here.
Curse of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Short Story to the Touch of Death Series.
When Medusa is caught between the god she serves and the god she loves, there can only be one outcome.
The Imaginary Friend: Lower Middle Grade Two-Part Short Story
Samantha and Tracy have been best friends since kindergarten, but now that Tracy has gotten over her shyness and made new friends, Samantha is feeling left out. This is nothing compared to how she feels when a strange girl named Jessica tells Samantha that she’s actually an imaginary friend. Tracy has outgrown Samantha, and it’s time for Samantha to help another child who needs her. But will Samantha be able to move on and fulfill her duty as an imaginary friend?
Campus Crush: New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel consisting of four novellas (written under my pen name Ashelyn Drake). The co-eds of Timberland College know a little romance is good for the soul.
Follow four couples as they try to find love in the Campus Crush Series boxset, including Nothing to Tell, Romancing the R.A., Behind Closed Doors, and Rushing Into Love.
When you're looking for love, you have to be willing to break the rules.
This novel includes all four novellas in the Campus Crush series:
Nothing To Tell
Romancing the R.A.
Behind Closed Doors
Rushing Into Love
Touch of Death (Touch of Death series #1): YA paranormal
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
The Monster Within: YA paranormal
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.
She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.
But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.
Perfect For You: YA contemporary romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker?
Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible.
But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful.
Into the Fire: YA paranormal romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.
But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.
A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.
Right now I'm in the process of cleaning out a room in my house that will become my office. Yes, I'm going to finally have an office. The renovations on my house are just about complete. We're still waiting on a few things, but we are moving my daughter's toys out of one room and moving my desk, bookshelf, and other office supplies in.
I don't have pictures yet since things are a mess at the moment. You know how whenever you do a project it looks like a bomb went off before you get everything settled? Well, that's pretty much my current state. But I'm enjoying the process because I'm going through my things and deciding where everything should go. This is going to be my space. The only downside is that my treadmill will share the room with me since we have no other place to put it, but it is mine, so I guess it's fair. Maybe jogging will inspire me when I need a little motivation, too. ;) And I'll finally get to frame the posters of my book covers my husband had made for me. Yay!
So while I figure out what my office will look like, I want to know what you're ideal writing space would be (or is, if you're lucky enough to have it already). Tell me in the comments.
I'm taking part in the Writer Rebel's Creed again this year, hosted/originated by Sheri Larsen. As part of the group, this is what I'm pledging to this year: If you'd like to join, check out Sheri's blog and sign up.
In addition to the Rebel's Creed, here are my goals for 2015:
- Secret goal I can't reveal yet. Sorry! I know what it is though, and I'll share as soon as I can.
- Promote The Darkness Within (Sequel to The Monster Within). The book releases in June and I'm ready to show everyone why they should love Sam and Ethan.
- Write another Campus Crush book. Ashelyn Drake fans have asked for another story featuring Mike (from Nothing to Tell) so he can get his HEA. I want to give him just that. :)
- Write the final book in the Curse of the Granville Fortune Series. This goal is self-explanatory. ;)
- Build my street team (Kelly's Coven) by spoiling my fans with lots of great exclusive stuff. I'm talking about bonus content, exclusive giveaways, changes to be characters in my books, review copies, SWAG, one-on-one discussions with me, and lots more.
Okay, so goals are great, but wish lists are a lot of fun, too. I'm putting these separately because they aren't things I have total control over. Here is my wish list of things I'd LOVE to happen in 2015:
- Get one or two more book deals. That would be really nice. :)
- Make the USA and/or NYT best seller list. My ultimate dream!
- Going to BEA or another big convention. Spencer Hill Press won't be attending BEA this year, so I need a miracle to happen in order to go.
- A drama-free year. It's no secret 2014 was rough for me. I want no drama in 2015. Can someone please make that happen for me?
What are your goals and/or wishes for 2015?
I'm one for deadlines. Sure, I'll pull my hair out and wonder how I'll ever meet all my deadlines, but then my mom (who keeps me sane) tells me that I'll get it done because I always do.
For me, the real problem is not having a deadline. If I don't know when I need to have a book drafted or revised by, I'm not as productive. And it's not by choice either. I find I'm just not as focused or as creative. I believe I've taught myself to be creative on command. It's a real thing. When I know I have to accomplish something, I'll do it. End of story. Tell me you'd like me to do something when I have time, and I'm lost. I need a deadline. This often means I create my own deadlines. And while I know I'm the one setting the deadline, I can still fool myself into believing it must be done. ;)
Are you like this? Do you need deadlines to motivate and push you toward your goals?
I've decided to add a Frequently Asked Questions feature on my website and blog as part of my Press Kit. So today, I'm asking for your help. What questions would you like me to answer? It can be anything about my writing or my books. Things like when I started writing, how I choose my genres, why I span age groups. Whatever you'd like.
Okay, you can ask me some silly questions too. Why not? I have a few quirks I'm willing to share for your amusement. Maybe I'll answer those as part of a vlog for fun. Sound good?
You're up. Leave me your questions in the comments. I won't answer them there though. I'm compile a list and share all the answers once I've finished. Thanks!
School is back in session, so that means I'm going back to my writing schedule. Summer is always tricky because my daughter and husband are home. This summer was particularly tricky because I had to stay with my parents for two months thanks to water damage and construction. While construction is still going on, I'm getting back to my old schedule and I couldn't be happier about it. There's something about knowing I have five hours to write five days a week that puts a big smile on my face.
Of course I'm not just writing. I'm marketing and editing too. Right now, I have a client edit on my plate, and I'm giving that top priority. But I'm also marketing multiple novels and plotting a new book because I'm a writer and that's what I do. That means I have to manage those five hours each day and break them up in a way that will allow me to accomplish all my tasks. Of course I have my day planner next to me so I can check off all the tasks as I complete them. I'd be lost without that planner. And let me tell you how quickly I can fill up five hours. Sheesh!
Who else is back on schedule now that summer break is over?
*Thank you to everyone who left questions for me last week when I asked for questions for my FAQ page on my website. I'll be sure to share my responses soon.*
I've been tagged by Vicki Leigh in the Meet My Character Blog Hop. Thanks, Vicki! So, today I'll be talking about the MC in Into the Fire. Well, one of them anyway. It's dual POV. Here we go!
1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Cara Tillman is 100% fictional, though she feels completely real in my mind.
2. When and where is the story set?
The story is set in present day in a fictional town called Ashlan Falls.
3. What should we know about him/her?
Cara is a descendent of the mythical phoenix bird, and her first rebirth is only one month away.
4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Cara knows that when she's reborn, she's going to forget everyone from her first life. So when she imprints on the new guy in town, Logan, this spells disaster. It also makes her more of a target for Hunters, people who kill Phoenixes and steal their essence so they can live longer.
5. What is the personal goal of the character?
Cara is dying to find a way to hold on to her memories and Logan through her rebirth.
6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Into the Fire is a YA romantic fantasy. Here's the blurb:
In one month, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die. But until then, she plans to enjoy every look, touch and kiss with her boyfriend Logan, the new boy in Ashlan Falls. Cara is a descendant of the mythical Phoenix bird, and her rebirth is nearing. But first, she must die and forget all that she knew before, including Logan's face, his laugh, and the way he says her name. With precious little time left for the two of them, Cara does all she can to savor every moment, unwittingly drawing a Phoenix hunter to her doorstep with every move.
7. When can we expect the book to be published?
Into the Fire was published on September 9th! You can grab your copy today on Amazon or B&N, and take the #IntotheFireChallenge for a chance to become a phoenix in the final book of the series.
A few weeks ago I asked you all to submit questions for the Frequently Asked Questions page on my website. I thought I'd also post them here, since this is where I initially asked for them. I've broken them up into two parts so neither post is too long, and you have the option to either read the questions and my responses or listen to them in video form.
I know you’re a Rick Riordan fan but, which other author(s) inspire you? Becca Fitzpatrick is another favorite of mine. I loved her Hush, Hush series. The dynamic between Patch and Nora was amazing and well supported by a great plot. I also really enjoyed Black Ice, which is her new thriller. Her writing just draws me in and doesn’t let go. Kelly, you have written quite a few books. How do you manage your timelines for writing each novel? I admit that I get a little crazy when it comes to drafting a new book. That book just sort of takes over my life until it’s written. I frequently get ideas for other books while I’m drafting, but I quickly jot those down and get back to the novel I’m currently working on. I’ve learned my characters don’t share me very well. ;) Do you set certain goals for your word count each day and do you always meet those goals? I don’t have a standard word count set per day. What I do is look at what I need to accomplish that day. Sometimes I have to help out at my daughter’s school, so I might only have two hours to write that day. I can usually get about 2K written in an hour, so I’ll take the number of hours I have and multiply it by two. I usually meet my goals because I’m kind of hard on my self, but there are times when unforeseen circumstances make me have to adjust my goals a bit. When do you know a book is finished, polished and ready to submit? Or even, how? Basically when all I’m doing in a revision is moving words around, it means I’ve reached my limit. At that point I need to pass it on to my agent and get her feedback. How you decide which bookstores to approach for readings and your pitches? Unfortunately, I only have one bookstore in my area, so I definitely start there. After that I like to team up with other authors and do joint signings both where I live and where they live. Are there any tricks you use to make yourself want to write during times when you absolutely do not feel like it? I actually haven’t found a time when I didn’t want to write. I feel guilty if I don’t write every day, or at least revise. I look at writing as a career and take it very seriously, but at the same time it’s part of who I am. It feels weird for me to take a day off because I feel like I’m missing something I love. How do you keep your two writing "personas", if you will, separate? I don’t always. Into the Fire has both of my names on the cover because it was a book that really blended both Kelly Hashway and Ashelyn Drake. Of course I have other books that are purely romance or purely paranormal. I tend to just run with the ideas that come to me. I do have separate social media accounts for each persona though. Are there times Ashelyn intrudes on your writing as Kelly? When writing the second book in the Birth of the Phoenix series I got really stuck in a particular place because I knew where Kelly would take the plot and I knew where Ashelyn would take the plot, and those two didn’t mesh. That was tough. So yes, my two personas do butt heads on occasion.
Today I have part two of my Frequently Asked Questions that you all submitted. If you missed part one, you can read or view it here. And once again, you have the option of reading the questions and my responses or watching the video of me answering the questions. How did you create such an engaging blog with so many followers, and how long did it take? I love my blog and my followers. When I started it, I was interested in meeting other writers and readers like me. I’ve made a lot of great connections over the years. I also like to be very open on my blog. I embarrass myself sometimes because I’m just me, no censoring. I’m okay with that though because I want my readers to know the real me. I’d never pretend to be anyone I’m not. I REALLY want to know how you write those 8,000 word days: is the family sequestered for the day? are you on a floating island somewhere? I’m held hostage by a bunch of characters who won’t shut up or stop pestering me to write their story. Seriously. My characters are demanding, and they talk so fast I can barely keep up. That’s really the only way I can explain it. If you could write anywhere, where you would you pick? The beach? A cabin in the mountains? While I love the beach and mountain views, I wouldn’t want to write there because I’d be distracted. Give me my boring old house any day of the week. I can stay focused there and just write. You get an incredible amount of writing done. After you fast draft or get your first draft in print, how much editing do you have to do? It really depends on the book. Sometimes I read a draft and think it’s really not far off at all. Other times I cringe and roll my eyes at myself. Has the editing process gotten easier over time? I love editing. Call me weird, but I do. I think the English teacher in me just gets giddy at the thought of reworking something and making it really shine. That’s not to say that edits are easy. They can be tough, but I remind myself how it will all be worth it when I’m finished. Does your husband read your books? Only my picture books. He’s not a reader at all, so if it’s more than a few pages, he’s not reading it. Which five books have moved/inspired you the most? This list changes every once in a while when I read a great new book, but here’s what it looks like right now: Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curseby Rick Riordan Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins Delirium by Lauren Oliver Divergent by Veronica Roth What is an embarrassing moment from your life? Did it help you writing? If so how?
Oh wow, I have many. Let’s see. On more than one occasion I’ve used the men’s room by accident, and of course I’ve been caught. I actually did use that for a short story that I sold, so I definitely think it helped my writing. Also, I can convey embarrassment on the page with no problem now. ;)
If you still have questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments.
I know some authors don't find a need to have a website, but I definitely do. Here's why. When people who don't know me look me up online, they'll find my website first. Google me and you'll see that my website comes up at the top of the search results. Sure my blog is also there in the search results, but if people aren't bloggers, they get a little intimidated by blogs.
Most of the people who contact me are teachers, readers, or parents of kids who have read my books. They look for a website, and they look for a contact me page so they can get in touch with me. So I spend a lot of time updating my website, keeping it current with what's going on with my writing. My home page has a News section with whatever is going on right now that I want people to be aware of. It's the first thing they see when they land on my page—well, under my custom banner slideshow that displays my books.
I also have my bio, press kit, and FAQ for any media personnel who stop by my site. Everything is right there for them to find in one spot. And I recently added a virtual business card that looks like this:
I know I'm most likely not the first person to use a virtual business card (even if I'd love to take credit for the idea) but I think it's a great idea. You can't hand your business card to everyone in the world, but if it's on your website, anyone can see it.
When I first created a website, I went with a free site. I quickly learned that having a custom domain is very important. Custom domains are easier to search for, and we want people to find us online. I now have a premium website with a custom domain, and I think it's money well spent. The proof is in the number of emails I get through my contact me form on my website. People are using my site, and that makes me very happy.
So yeah, I believe in author websites. How about you? Do you think author websites are important?
A couple weeks back, I was asked (in the comments) how to promote the second book in a series, so that's what I'm going to talk about today. First, I don't claim to be an expert at all. I'm just sharing my experiences and hoping they'll help you. So, here we go.
Promoting a sequel or second book in a series is tricky because you want to get word out about the new book, but you also want to draw new readers into the series, which actually means promoting book one. You should definitely post about book two, though. Post the cover reveal, post teasers, post links to reviews, but always continue to promote book one. Your current fans won't need much encouragement to buy book two if they loved book one. A simple "it's release day" post will prompt them to run out and get book two. You need to keep trying to broaden your reach and find new readers for the series.
Even though the entire Touch of Death series is out, I continue to promote book one. My publicist even made this image for me:
Notice it's book one on the image. That's not to say you can't use images with both covers or all of them if it's a series. Go right ahead, but make sure it's clear which book begins the series because new readers will need to know that.
Over the summer, Stalked by Death, which is the second book in the Touch of Death series, was the Kindle Daily Deal. It became a #1 Best Seller in Greek Mythology on Amazon. What also happened was Touch of Death becoming #3 in the same category. Why? New readers bought book one when book two went on sale.
So, when you promote book two, don't forget to promote book one. You want to be loyal to your existing fans and continue to let them know about your new releases, but you also want to reach new readers and draw them in to the start of the series.
Do you have tips for promoting a second book in a series? Please share in the comments.
We've all heard that half the battle—or maybe more—in selling books is finding your audience. But how do you do that? It's something that I've struggled with, so I thought I'd share my story with you.
When Touch of Death was originally submitted to editors, it was pitched as The Walking Dead meets Shatter Me. Now, I should have immediately realized my audience off of that pitch, but I was new to the industry and I admit it went right over my head. Now, nearly two years later, I realized that I have a huge audience I never reached out to. Fans of The Walking Dead!
So this Sunday, I'm hosting a Twitter Viewing Party during this week's episode of The Walking Dead.
In addition to the viewing party, my P.A. made this for me, and I love it because it's Daryl and my book! ;)
I've also been on a book tour for The Monster Within and I've been bringing my bookmarks for the Touch of Death series. After I talk to people about The Monster Within, I mention Touch of Death. But my first question is always "Are you a fan of The Walking Dead?" All but one person I asked answered yes to that question, and the one person who didn't said she wasn't but the woman with her was. It's the perfect way for me to introduce my series and hand out bookmarks. So that's the pitch I'm sticking with for this series.
Will this connection to The Walking Dead help sales? I guess I'll find out, but I certainly can't see how it could hurt.
So it may have taken me a while to stumble on this idea, but I found my audience. How have you found your audience?
One of the hardest things for me is telling people I'm a writer. I know, you're probably thinking that I have a writing blog and an author website and I'm all over the place online. That's true. But when it comes to face-to-face interactions (at non-book events), I have a really tough time telling people what I do.
You can put me at a book signing or a school visit and I'll talk about my career until you beg me to stop. But introduce me to someone outside the industry in a normal everyday setting and I won't mention my job unless I'm specifically asked.
Why is that? I'm not in any way ashamed of what I do. I love my job. I couldn't ask for a better one. Yet I'm always afraid to tell people I write books because of two main reasons. First, I don't want people to assume I'm going to ask them to buy my books. You know that spammy author who can speak of nothing but their new book. Yeah, that's not me. Second, I hate when people ask me how well my books sell. It's like they expect that since I write I must be on the NYT bestseller list. Yeah, doesn't exactly happen that way.
What about you? Do you have a difficult time telling people you're a writer? What are some reactions you've gotten from people when you have told them?
For me, writing is so many things. I've experienced an array of emotions because of my crazy need to write. So today, I'm sharing what writing is to me.
an outlet for creativity
demanding and at times all-consuming
fun and totally inspiring
lonely at times
an emotional roller coaster
as natural and necessary to me as breathing
part of who I am
Yes, my list has positives and negatives. There are days when I wonder why I torture myself by being an author. Publishing is crazy and extremely hard. I've cried so many tears over the years, yet I keep writing. As much as writing takes out of me, it continues to give me so much more. I couldn't imagine doing anything else (except for editing, but that's part of writing, too). So I'll continue to take the bad with the good and hope the good wins out in the end, because I've discovered that putting words on paper is something I have to do. It's a part of me.
What is writing to you?
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It's no secret I've been doing a lot of author events this fall. I had a book tour for The Monster Within, which wraps up on the 29th with a signing at Moravian Book Shop, and I have two school visits planned for December 1. While I was at an event last month, a fellow writer asked me if I thought doing events was worth it. My answer was absolutely.
Do events promise to sell more books? Not necessarily. Yes, I was fortunate enough to sell well at my events, but let's be honest. Some events wind up being disappointing. But here's the upside. Events are about exposure. If your signing was mentioned in the paper, you've gotten exposure you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. If your author appearance is at a school, there's a huge audience you might not have reached before. I know some authors only book big events that guarantee lots of people and lots of potential sales. Me? I book big events, small events, and even non-selling events. Why? Because it's not always about the in-the-moment sale. Sure, it's great to sell out of the stock the bookstore ordered. Or to have a school district order class sets of your book. But there's more to it than that.
One thing we can't lose sight of after our book is out in the world is that while sales are great, so are connections. In fact, they are more important. Finding a librarian who books you for a school event and then asks if you'd be willing to come back and speak again is priceless. Think of all the students and teachers you'll reach. Booking an event where you can't sell but you can share your love of writing with others is great because there's no pressure AND people are more willing to listen to you if they know they won't have the awkward experience of having to say "not today" to purchasing a signed copy. And what I've found is that those people will then go home and look you up.
So, are author events worth it? Absolutely! For so many different reasons.